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Showing posts from July, 2010

Sweet Hour of Prayer

This hymn has always brought back good memories for me. My grandparents attended a large Baptist church that had a penchant for singing what I would call "classic" hymns. "Sweet Hour of Prayer" was one that I took too because it had a very memorable tune as well as being written in a sing-songy 3/4 time signature (like a waltz ). A couple of years ago, I had been asked to arrange some hymns for use in worship, and I wrote a chorus for this version. I sung it several times with positive feedback, so it was a natural choice for the FBR project. Moreover, I felt that a song focusing on prayer would be more than appropriate for inclusion in a work directed at the modern church in America. Our wealthy and blessed nation has so little room for God in part because we have so little felt needs. Even our homeless citizens and prisoners enjoy a much better quality of life than their counterparts in much of the rest of the world. With this in mind, I don't think we can

Nothing But The Blood

One thing that I frequently miss in being a part of Presbyterian tradition is foot stomping, knee slapping passion. I grew up with a grandfather that love love LOVED bluegrass music, and I still have fond memories of listening to tapes with him that were reminiscent of the entirety of the " O Brother, Where Art Thou? " soundtrack. As a kid, I was also exposed to the landmark Michael W. Smith album, " The Live Set ", which featured his adaptation of "Nothing But The Blood". Because this lyric is so simple and yet profound, it proved a great candidate for inclusion on FBR. Since the arrangement was also a different genre from the other hymns, I had little trouble making the decision. One element that was added with great joy was the bass solo in the middle by the very capable Vern Mullins. The bass solo was a critical must for me personally because I am often struck by the funny ideas that evangelical america has about music in church. Traditionally (a

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Some have questioned the inclusion of what has become a stereotypically Advent seasonal hymn on a non-Christmas work. This song became a part of FBR because of its invitational message that recognizes the lordship of the Christ. The under currents of the project speak of man's desperate need for an ultimate answer and this text pictures gospel rescue beautifully. As much as "Out of the Deep I Call" was a reference to the 90's, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" was a tribute to the 80's. Personally describing it as a hybrid of Johnny Cash and Depeche Mode, I enjoyed the U2-ish guitar riffs laid down by Ben. Indeed, the arrangement ended up being so unique that I chose to stay with the original melody and chord structure, so as to not completely alienate the worshiper. Though I have fielded several comments in praise of this version of the tune, I have to admit that it was not an easy feat. After nearly two hours of rehearsal, this track was simply not coming

Joy Again

This reprise of the album's ending track developed as a simple warm-up exercise as I was practicing the piano part in my home. I got completely and totally sidetracked and was inspired to press "record". The resulting track is a short clip of a live and unrehearsed jam take. The resulting name is a play on the word "rejoice". The piano heard in the recording is the wonderfully out of tune console acoustic instrument in the corner of my living room.

Were You There

FBR is about inclusivity and I felt that making sure that a traditional Spiritual made it onto the album was and is an important part of that goal. American music as a whole has been heavily influenced by these simple melodies from the 18th and 19th centuries, and I believe we would be amiss to not acknowledge their presence in historical hymnody. In researching a suitable song for such a purpose, I was sensitive to the fact that in general, most Spirituals were simplistic snapshots of biblical stories and concepts. I chose "Were You There?" because it referenced our Lord and made reference to His glory and greatness. The melody is quite singable but has some nice rhythmic breaks that I found interesting. The doo-wop style was chosen as an homage to one style of music that has distinct roots in the genre of the text. The recording was blessed by Ben's guitar styling, being uncharacteristically relevant and surprisingly appropriate for someone of his young age. Th

I Need Thee Every Hour

This particular tune will not be well-known to the listener for appearing on the FBR album. In fact, Sandra McCracken had already popularized this Kevin Twit arrangement several years ago. The reason I was so set on including it in the track list was because I felt (and still feel) that this song is: 1. Amazingly powerful and simply memorable, and 2. Quite possibly Kevin's best arrangement to date. In working on this track, it was easy to be swept away by adding layer after layer of sonic depth. The lyrics and sweeping melodic lines make for ample opportunities to utilize inner moving voices. Large orchestral underpinning and dramatic guitar parts filled out the mix to create what I consider to be a great blend of both past and present church worship. This song captured some of the best moments of what I visualize as "blended worship". Implementing sounds not unfamiliar to both the older and younger demographic, I am hopeful that this meaty song speaks well to all age